Medical Pain Scale 0-10

When it comes to pain, it can become a challenge to get other people, such as a doctor, to understand just how bad your pain is. To them, your pain is invisible and it’s hard for them to understand what you are going through. Pain is personal - you are the only one who truly knows just how much chronic pain or minor pain you are experiencing at any given moment. There is no magic test that can measure a person’s pain and the pain intensity. Therefore, to understand pain better and aim for a better health related quality of life, pain level charts have been created to help bridge the gap between patients and doctors to find the best treatment of pain.

What is a Pain Scale Chart?

Every person experiences pain differently. The same issue may seem like the worst physical pain ever to one person while someone else may only find themselves experiencing only minor pain. To get a better understanding of each individual’s pain, a simple yet effective solution was created - pain scales. These rating scales provide a way for people to convey to a medical professional what their pain level is. Everyone feels pain differently, so these pain charts can help doctors or nurses better understand someone’s present state and condition. Standard medical pain scales are numeric rating scales that range from 1-10 with each pain level being increasingly more painful.

How do patients and doctors use the pain scale?

If you’re having difficulty rating your pain levels when the physician, nurse, or therapist asks, know that you are not alone. You have probably seen the common pain scales in a health care facility before, but many people aren't sure of the pain scale definition or how to rate their pain level scale between 1-10 (0 is pain-free). Doctors use the pain scale charts to perform a pain assessment for each patient to further determine proper treatment options. For patients, Wong-Baker faces are used for each level 1 through 10 to further assess the level of pain they are currently experiencing. Each face corresponds to a specific pain level to give an even better understanding to the patient of which pain level they are at. With a standard system of the medical pain scale (1-10) can be beneficial to both patients and doctors to ultimately alleviate the pain the patient is feeling.

How to describe your pain accurately?

The chart below provides descriptions and some tangible examples of the various levels that define the 0-10 pain scale. Patients should use this pain scale to aid in describing their pain accurately to a medical professional. To better explain your pain levels to your physician before arriving at a medical facility, we have a free printable pain scale chart for your use. Click here to view a PDF of the Michigan Pain Measurement Scales that includes pain scale descriptions 0-10 and Wong-Baker faces.

0  Pain free
1  Very minor annoyance-occasional minor twinges
2  Minor annoyance-occasional
3  Annoying enough to be distracting
4  Can be ignored if you are really involved in your work, but still distracting,
5  Can’t be ignored for more than 30 minutes.
6  Can’t be ignored for any length of time, but you can still go to work and participate in social activities.
7  Make it difficult to concentrate, interferes with sleep, you can still function with effort
8  Physical activity severely limited. You can read and converse with effort. Nausea and dizziness may occur.
9  Unable to speak, crying out or moaning uncontrollable- pain makes you pass out
10  Unconscious. Pain makes you pass out.

Finding the right treatment for chronic pain

Treatment of chronic pain isn’t always a walk in the park. It usually is a time-consuming process. Treatment requires time, effort, and sometimes multiple different methods of treatment. Your doctor can work with you to find what mix of treatment options will be optimal in relieving your chronic pain. Common treatment options of chronic pain include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and behavioral therapy. In most cases, an individual plan is made for each patient by a pain specialist to further assess and treat the problem, not everyone will have the same mix of treatment options to effectively treat their chronic pain.